The coffee shop was bustling.
A stream of people flowed in and out. Most exchanged pleasant smiles and polite greetings as they passed each other coming and going. Others struck up conversations with the person next to them in line.
And though their conversations revealed they were meeting for the first time, the people in line spoke to each other as though they’d known each other for years.
I was struck by all the friendliness I was seeing, and I got to wondering, “What is it about this place? Why is it so positive here, while other coffee shops felt more like a funeral procession?
It didn’t take long to identify the source. Every person in the place had one thing in common; their warm interaction with the owner, who was behind the counter. Whether this was their thousandth visit, or their first, he greeted them all in the same bright, enthusiastic way.
He had a way of making you feel like he was truly, genuinely glad you were there… that he was really happy to see you… that you were one of his favorite people. In short, he made you feel appreciated.
If you study human nature long enough, you learn that there’s no faster way to make a friend than to make someone feel good about themselves. And there’s no better way to do that than to make them feel appreciated.
So, what does that have to do with business success?
Quality product and prompt service not withstanding, the coffee shop’s cash register was nearly overheating from activity because of one primary reason; he had created great relationships with his customers.
By creating an environment of friendly, positive relationships, he created a place where people want to go – again and again.
Take a minute and think about your interactions with your customers. Have your conversations become “all business” and matter-of-fact, or do engage them on a personal level? Do you just take their order and quote a delivery date, or do you work to make sure your customers walk away knowing that their business is appreciated?
If your interactions are more like the former than the latter, it’s time to take a cue from the coffee shop owner. Don’t be afraid to show your customers that you’re truly glad they are there; that their time, money, and loyalty is genuinely appreciated.
For example; while you certainly don’t have to become a personal therapist, genuine inquiries into your customers well being can go a long way towards helping them see that you think of them as more than a way to pay your bills.
When it comes down to it, people want to do business with people that they feel good about doing business with. By allowing yourself to engage with and express your gratitude towards your customers, you might just help them walk away feeling a little better for having spoken with you.
In part two of this article, we’ll talk about other ways to ensure that you’re building relationships that last, and how to make sure that your sales and customer service staff aren’t undoing the relationships you’re working so hard to build.